Part 8 out of 10
Cecilia followed Louisa with her eyes till she was out of sight. "And is
Louisa," said she, to herself, "the only one who would stop to pity me?
Mrs. Villars told me that this day should be mine. She little thought
how it would end!"
Saying these words, Cecilia threw herself down upon the ground; her arm
leaned upon a heap of turf which she had raised in the morning, and
which, in the pride and gaiety of her heart, she had called her throne.
At this instant, Mrs. Villars came out to enjoy the serenity of the
evening, and, passing by the arbour where Cecilia lay, she started.
Cecilia rose hastily.
"Who is there?" said Mrs. Villars.
"It is I, madam."
"And who is _I_?"
"Why, what keeps you here, my dear? Where are your companions? This is,
perhaps, one of the happiest days of your life."
"Oh, no, madam," said Cecilia, hardly able to repress her tears.
"Why, my dear, what is the matter?" Cecilia hesitated. "Speak, my dear.
You know that when I ask you to tell me anything as your friend, I never
punish you as your governess; therefore you need not be afraid to tell me
what is the matter."
"No, madam, I am not afraid, but ashamed. You asked me why I was not
with my companions. Why, madam, because they have all left me, and--"
"And what, my dear?"
"And I see that they all dislike me; and yet I don't know why they
should, for I take as much pains to please as any of them. All my
masters seem satisfied with me; and you yourself, madam, were pleased
this very morning to give me this bracelet; and I am sure you would not
have given it to anyone who did not deserve it."
"Certainly not," said Mrs. Villars. "You well deserve it for your
application--for your successful application. The prize was for the most
assiduous, not for the most amiable."
"Then, if it had been for the most amiable, it would not have been for
Mrs. Villars, smiling,--"Why, what do you think yourself, Cecilia? You
are better able to judge than I am. I can determine whether or no you
apply to what I give you to learn; whether you attend to what I desire
you to do, and avoid what I desire you not to do. I know that I like you
as a pupil, but I cannot know that I should like you as a companion,
unless I were your companion. Therefore I must judge of what I should
do, by seeing what others do in the same circumstances."
"Oh, pray don't, madam! for then you would not love me either. And yet I
think you would love me; for I hope that I am as ready to oblige, and as
"Yes, Cecilia, I don't doubt but that you would be very good natured to
me; but I'm afraid that I should not like you unless you were good-
"But, madam, by good-natured I mean good-tempered--it's all the same
"No, indeed, I understand by them two very different things. You are
good-natured, Cecilia; for you are desirous to oblige and serve your
companions--to gain them praise, and save them from blame--to give them
pleasure, and relieve them from pain; but Leonora is good-tempered, for
she can bear with their foibles, and acknowledge her own. Without
disputing about the right, she sometimes yields to those who are in the
wrong. In short, her temper is perfectly good; for it can bear and
"I wish that mine could!" said Cecilia, sighing.
"It may," replied Mrs. Villars; "but it is not wishes alone which can
improve us in anything. Turn the same exertion and perseverance which
have won you the prize to-day to this object, and you will meet with the
same success; perhaps not on the first, the second, or the third attempt;
but depend upon it that you will at last. Every new effort will weaken
your bad habits, and strengthen your good ones. But you must not expect
to succeed all at once. I repeat it to you, for habit must be
counteracted by habit. It would be as extravagant in us to expect that
all our faults could be destroyed by one punishment, were it ever so
severe, as it was in the Roman emperor we were reading of a few days ago,
to wish that all the heads of his enemies were upon one neck, that he
might cut them off at one blow."
Here Mrs. Villars took Cecilia by the hand, and they began to walk home.
Such was the nature of Cecilia's mind, that when any object was forcibly
impressed on her imagination, it caused a temporary suspension of her
reasoning faculties. Hope was too strong a stimulus for her spirits; and
when fear did take possession of her mind, it was attended with total
debility. Her vanity was now as much mortified as in the morning it had
been elated. She walked on with Mrs. Villars in silence, until they came
under the shade of the elm-tree walk, and there, fixing her eyes upon
Mrs. Villars, she stopped short.
"Do you think, madam," said she, with hesitation--"do you think, madam,
that I have a bad heart?"
"A bad heart,--my dear! why, what put that into your head?"
"Leonora said that I had, madam, and I felt ashamed when she said so."
"But, my dear, how can Leonora tell whether your heart be good or bad?
However, in the first place, tell me what you mean by a bad heart."
"Indeed I do not know what is meant by it, madam; but it is something
which everybody hates."
"And why do they hate it?"
"Because they think that it will hurt them, ma'am, I believe: and that
those who have bad hearts take delight in doing mischief; and that they
never do anybody any good but for their own ends."
"Then the best definition," said Mrs. Villars, "which you can give me of
a bad heart is, that it is some constant propensity to hurt others, and
to do wrong for the sake of doing wrong."
"Yes, madam; but that is not all either. There is still something else
meant; something which I cannot express--which, indeed, I never
distinctly understood; but of which, therefore, I was the more afraid."
"Well, then, to begin with what you do understand, tell me, Cecilia, do
you really think it possible to be wicked merely for the love of
wickedness? No human being becomes wicked all at once. A man begins by
doing wrong because it is, or because he thinks it, for his interest. If
he continue to do so, he must conquer his sense of shame and lose his
love of virtue. But how can you, Cecilia, who feel such a strong sense
of shame, and such an eager desire to improve, imagine that you have a
"Indeed, madam, I never did, until everybody told me so, and then I began
to be frightened about it. This very evening, madam, when I was in a
passion, I threw little Louisa's strawberries away, which, I am sure, I
was very sorry for afterwards; and Leonora and everybody cried out that I
had a bad heart--but I am sure I was only in a passion."
"Very likely. And when you are in a passion, as you call it, Cecilia,
you see that you are tempted to do harm to others. If they do not feel
angry themselves, they do not sympathize with you. They do not perceive
the motive which actuates you; and then they say that you have a bad
heart. I daresay, however, when your passion is over, and when you
recollect yourself, you are very sorry for what you have done and said;
are not you?"
"Yes, indeed, madam--very sorry."
"Then make that sorry of use to you, Cecilia, and fix it steadily in your
thoughts, as you hope to be good and happy, that if you suffer yourself
to yield to your passion upon every occasion, anger and its consequences
will become familiar to your mind; and, in the same proportion, your
sense of shame will be weakened, till what you began with doing from
sudden impulse you will end with doing from habit and choice: then you
would, indeed, according to our definition, have a bad heart."
"Oh, madam! I hope--I am sure I never shall."
"No, indeed, Cecilia; I do, indeed, believe that you never will; on the
contrary, I think that you have a very good disposition, and what is of
infinitely more consequence to you, an active desire of improvement.
Show me that you have as much perseverance as you have candour, and I
shall not despair of your becoming everything that I could wish."
Here Cecilia's countenance brightened, and she ran up the steps in almost
as high spirits as she ran down them in the morning.
"Good-night to you, Cecilia," said Mrs. Villars, as she was crossing the
hall. "Good-night to you, madam," said Cecilia; and she ran upstairs to
bed. She could not go to sleep; but she lay awake, reflecting upon the
events of the preceding day, and forming resolutions for the future, at
the same time that she had resolved, and resolved without effect, she
wished to give her mind some more powerful motive. Ambition she knew to
be its most powerful incentive. "Have I not," said she to herself,
"already won the prize of application, and cannot the same application
procure me a much higher prize? Mrs. Villars said that if the prize had
been promised to the most amiable, it would not have been given to me.
Perhaps it would not yesterday, perhaps it might not to-morrow; but that
is no reason that I should despair of ever deserving it.".
In consequence of this reasoning, Cecilia formed a design of proposing to
her companions that they should give a prize, the first of the ensuing
month (the lst of June), to the most amiable. Mrs. Villars applauded the
scheme, and her companions adopted it with the greatest alacrity.
"Let the prize," said they, "be a bracelet of our own hair;" and
instantly their shining scissors were produced, and each contributed a
lock of their hair. They formed the most beautiful gradation of colours,
from the palest auburn to the brightest black. Who was to have the
honour of plaiting them? was now the question. Caroline begged that she
might, as she could plait very neatly, she said. Cecilia, however, was
equally sure that she could do it much better; and a dispute would have
inevitably ensued, if Cecilia, recollecting herself just as her colour
rose to scarlet, had not yielded--yielded, with no very good grace
indeed, but as well as could be expected for the first time. For it is
habit which confers ease; and without ease, even in moral actions, there
can be no grace.
The bracelet was plaited in the neatest manner by Caroline, finished
round the edge with silver twist, and on it was worked, in the smallest
silver letters, this motto, "TO THE MOST AMIABLE." The moment it was
completed, everybody begged to try it on. It fastened with little silver
clasps, and as it was made large enough for the eldest girls, it was too
large for the youngest. Of this they bitterly complained, and
unanimously entreated that it might be cut to fit them.
"How foolish!" exclaimed Cecilia; "don't you perceive that if any of you
win it, you have nothing to do but to put the clips a little further from
the edge, but if we get it, we can't make it larger?"
"Very true," said they; "but you need not to have called us foolish,
It was by such hasty and unguarded expressions as these that Cecilia
offended. A slight difference in the manner makes a very material one in
the effect. Cecilia lost more love by general petulance than she could
gain by the greatest particular exertions.
How far she succeeded in curing herself of this defect--how far she
became deserving of the bracelet, and to whom the bracelet was given--
shall be told in the History of the First of June.
The First of June was now arrived, and all the young competitors were in
a state of the most anxious suspense. Leonora and Cecilia continued to
be the foremost candidates. Their quarrel had never been finally
adjusted, and their different pretensions now retarded all thoughts of a
reconciliation. Cecilia, though she was capable of acknowledging any of
her faults in public before all her companions, could not humble herself
in private to Leonora. Leonora was her equal; they were her inferiors,
and submission is much easier to a vain mind, where it appears to be
voluntary, than when it is the necessary tribute to justice or candour.
So strongly did Cecilia feel this truth, that she even delayed making any
apology, or coming to any explanation with Leonora, until success should
once more give her the palm.
"If I win the bracelet, to-day," said she to herself, "I will solicit the
return of Leonora's friendship; it will be more valuable to me than even
the bracelet, and at such a time, and asked in such a manner, she surely
cannot refuse it to me." Animated with this hope of a double triumph,
Cecilia canvassed with the most zealous activity. By constant attention
and exertion she had considerably abated the violence of her temper, and
changed the course of her habits. Her powers of pleasing were now
excited, instead of her abilities to excel; and, if her talents appeared
less brilliant, her character was acknowledged to be more amiable. So
great an influence upon our manners and conduct have the objects of our
Cecilia was now, if possible, more than ever desirous of doing what was
right, but she had not yet acquired sufficient fear of doing wrong. This
was the fundamental error of her mind; it arose in a great measure from
her early education. Her mother died when she was very young; and though
her father had supplied her place in the best and kindest manner, he had
insensibly infused into his daughter's mind a portion of that
enterprising, independent spirit which he justly deemed essential to the
character of her brother. This brother was some years older than
Cecilia, but he had always been the favourite companion of her youth.
What her father's precepts inculcated, his example enforced; and even
Cecilia's virtues consequently became such as were more estimable in a
man than desirable in a female. All small objects and small errors she
had been taught to disregard as trifles; and her impatient disposition
was perpetually leading her into more material faults; yet her candour in
confessing these, she had been suffered to believe, was sufficient
reparation and atonement.
Leonora, on the contrary, who had been educated by her mother in a manner
more suited to her sex, had a character and virtues more peculiar to a
female. Her judgment had been early cultivated, and her good sense
employed in the regulation of her conduct. She had been habituated to
that restraint, which, as a woman, she was to expect in life, and early
accustomed to yield. Compliance in her seemed natural and graceful; yet
notwithstanding the gentleness of her temper, she was in reality more
independent than Cecilia. She had more reliance upon her own judgment,
and more satisfaction in her own approbation. The uniform kindness of
her manner, the consistency and equality of her character, had fixed the
esteem and passive love of her companions.
By passive love we mean that species of affection which makes us
unwilling to offend rather than anxious to oblige, which is more a habit
than an emotion of the mind. For Cecilia her companions felt active
love, for she was active in showing her love to them.
Active love arises spontaneously in the mind, after feeling particular
instances of kindness, without reflection on the past conduct or general
character. It exceeds the merits of its object, and is connected with a
feeling of generosity, rather than with a sense of justice.
Without determining which species of love is the most flattering to
others, we can easily decide which is the most agreeable feeling to our
minds. We give our hearts more credit for being generous than for being
just; and we feel more self-complacency when we give our love
voluntarily, than when we yield it as a tribute which we cannot withhold.
Though Cecilia's companions might not know all this in theory, they
proved it in practice; for they loved her in a much higher proportion to
her merits than they loved Leonora.
Each of the young judges were to signify their choice by putting a red or
a white shell into a vase prepared for the purpose. Cecilia's colour was
red, Leonora's white.
In the morning nothing was to be seen but these shells; nothing talked of
but the long expected event of the evening. Cecilia, following Leonora's
example, had made it a point of honour not to inquire of any individual
her vote, previously to their final determination.
They were both sitting together in Louisa's room. Louisa was recovering
from the measles. Everyone during her illness had been desirous of
attending her; but Leonora and Cecilia were the only two that were
permitted to see her, as they alone had had the distemper. They were
both assiduous in their care of Louisa, but Leonora's want of exertion to
overcome any disagreeable feelings of sensibility often deprived her of
presence of mind, and prevented her from being so constantly useful as
Cecilia. Cecilia, on the contrary, often made too much noise and bustle
with her officious assistance, and was too anxious to invent amusements
and procure comforts for Louisa, without perceiving that illness takes
away the power of enjoying them.
As she was sitting at the window in the morning, exerting herself to
entertain Louisa, she heard the voice of an old peddler who often used to
come to the house. Downstairs they ran immediately, to ask Mrs. Villars'
permission to bring him into the hall. Mrs. Villars consented, and away
Cecilia ran to proclaim the news to her companions. Then, first
returning into the hall, she found the peddler just unbuckling his box,
and taking it off his shoulders.
"What would you be pleased to want, miss?" said the peddler; "I've all
kinds of tweezer-cases, rings, and lockets of all sorts," continued he,
opening all the glittering drawers successively.
"Oh!" said Cecilia, shutting the drawer of lockets which tempted her
most, "these are not the things which I want. Have you any china
figures? any mandarins?"
"Alack-a-day, miss, I had a great stock of that same chinaware; but now
I'm quite out of them kind of things; but I believe," said he, rummaging
one of the deepest drawers, "I believe I have one left, and here it is."
"Oh, that is the very thing! what's its price?"
"Only three shillings, ma'am." Cecilia paid the money, and was just
going to carry off the mandarin, when the peddler took out of his great-
coat pocket a neat mahogany case. It was about a foot long, and fastened
at each end by two little clasps. It had besides, a small lock in the
"What is that?" said Cecilia, eagerly.
"It's only a china figure, miss, which I am going to carry to an elderly
lady, who lives nigh hand, and who is mighty fond of such things."
"Could you let me look at it?"
"And welcome, miss," said he, and opened the case.
"Oh, goodness! how beautiful!" exclaimed Cecilia.
It was a figure of Flora, crowned with roses, and carrying a basket of
flowers in her hand. Cecilia contemplated it with delight. "How I
should like to give this to Louisa!" said she to herself; and, at last,
breaking silence, "Did you promise it to the old lady?"
"Oh, no, miss, I didn't promise it--she never saw it; and if so be that
you'd like to take it, I'd make no more words about it."
"And how much does it cost?"
"Why, miss, as to that, I'll let you have it for half-a-guinea."
Cecilia immediately produced the box in which she kept her treasure, and,
emptying it upon the table, she began to count the shillings. Alas!
there were but six shillings. "How provoking!" said she; "then I can't
have it. Where's the mandarin? Oh, I have it," said she, taking it up,
and looking at it with the utmost disgust. "Is this the same that I had
"Yes, miss, the very same," replied the peddler, who, during this time,
had been examining the little box out of which Cecilia had taken her
money--it was of silver. "Why, ma'am," said he, "since you've taken such
a fancy to the piece, if you've a mind to make up the remainder of the
money, I will take this here little box, if you care to part with it."
Now this box was a keepsake from Leonora to Cecilia. "No," said Cecilia
hastily, blushing a little, and stretching out her hand to receive it.
"Oh, miss!" said he, returning it carelessly, "I hope there's no offence.
I meant but to serve you, that's all. Such a rare piece of china-work
has no cause to go a-begging," added he. Then, putting the Flora
deliberately into the case, and turning the key with a jerk, he let it
drop into his pocket; when, lifting up his box by the leather straps, he
was preparing to depart.
"Oh, stay one minute!" said Cecilia, in whose mind there had passed a
very warm conflict during the peddler's harangue. "Louisa would so like
this Flora," said she, arguing with herself. "Besides, it would be so
generous in me to give it to her instead of that ugly mandarin; that
would be doing only common justice, for I promised it to her, and she
expects it. Though, when I come to look at this mandarin, it is not even
so good as hers was. The gilding is all rubbed off, so that I absolutely
must buy this for her. Oh, yes! I will, and she will be so delighted!
and then everybody will say it is the prettiest thing they ever saw, and
the broken mandarin will be forgotten for ever."
Here Cecilia's hand moved, and she was just going to decide: "Oh, but
stop," said she to herself, "consider--Leonora gave me this box, and it
is a keepsake. However, we have now quarrelled, and I dare say that she
would not mind my parting with it. I'm sure that I should not care if
she was to give away my keepsake, the smelling-bottle, or the ring which
I gave her. Then what does it signify? Besides, is it not my own? and
have I not a right to do what I please with it?"
At this moment, so critical for Cecilia, a party of her companions opened
the door. She knew that they came as purchasers, and she dreaded her
Flora's becoming the prize of some higher bidder. "Here," said she,
hastily putting the box into the peddler's hand, without looking at it;
"take it, and give me the Flora." Her hand trembled, though she snatched
it impatiently. She ran by, without seeming to mind any of her
Let those who are tempted to do wrong by the hopes of future
gratification, or the prospect of certain concealment and impunity,
remember that, unless they are totally depraved, they bear in their own
hearts a monitor, who will prevent their enjoying what they ill obtained.
In vain Cecilia ran to the rest of her companions, to display her
present, in hopes that the applause of others would restore her own self-
complacency; in vain she saw the Flora pass in due pomp from hand to
hand, each vying with the other in extolling the beauty of the gift and
the generosity of the giver. Cecilia was still displeased with herself,
with them, and even with their praise. From Louisa's gratitude, however,
she yet expected much pleasure, and immediately she ran upstairs to her
In the meantime, Leonora had gone into the hall to buy a bodkin; she had
just broken hers. In giving her change, the peddler took out of his
pocket, with some halfpence, the very box which Cecilia had sold to him.
Leonora did not in the least suspect the truth, for her mind was above
suspicion; and besides, she had the utmost confidence in Cecilia.
"I should like to have that box," said she, "for it is like one of which
I was very fond."
The peddler named the price, and Leonora took the box. She intended to
give it to little Louisa. On going to her room she found her asleep, and
she sat softly down by her bedside. Louisa opened her eyes.
"I hope I didn't disturb you," said Leonora.
"Oh, no. I didn't hear you come in; but what have you got there?"
"Only a little box; would you like to have it? I bought on purpose for
you, as I thought perhaps it would please you, because it's like that
which I gave Cecilia."
"Oh, yes! that out of which she used to give me Barbary drops. I am very
much obliged to you; I always thought that exceedingly pretty, and this,
indeed, is as like it as possible. I can't unscrew it; will you try?"
Leonora unscrewed it. "Goodness!" exclaimed Louisa, "this must be
Cecilia's box. Look, don't you see a great L at the bottom of it?"
Leonora's colour changed. "Yes," she replied calmly, "I see that; but it
is no proof that it is Cecilia's. You know that I bought this box just
now of the peddler."
"That may be," said Louisa; "but I remember scratching that L with my own
needle, and Cecilia scolded me for it, too. Do go and ask her if she has
lost her box--do," repeated Louisa, pulling her by the ruffle, as she did
not seem to listen.
Leonora, indeed, did not hear, for she was lost in thought. She was
comparing circumstances, which had before escaped her attention. She
recollected that Cecilia had passed her as she came into the hall,
without seeming to see her, but had blushed as she passed. She
remembered that the peddler appeared unwilling to part with the box, and
was going to put it again in his pocket with the halfpence. "And why
should he keep it in his pocket, and not show it with his other things?"
Combining all these circumstances, Leonora had no longer any doubt of the
truth, for though she had honourable confidence in her friends, she had
too much penetration to be implicitly credulous.
"Louisa," she began, but at this instant she heard a step, which, by its
quickness, she knew to be Cecilia's, coming along the passage. "If you
love me, Louisa," said Leonora, "say nothing about the box."
"Nay, but why not? I daresay she had lost it."
"No, my dear, I'm afraid she has not." Louisa looked surprised. "But I
have reasons for desiring you not to say anything about it."
"Well, then, I won't, indeed."
Cecilia opened the door, came forward smiling, as if secure of a good
reception, and taking the Flora out of the case, she placed it on the
mantlepiece, opposite to Louisa's bed. "Dear, how beautiful!" cried
Louisa, starting up.
"Yes," said Cecilia, "and guess who it's for."
"For me, perhaps!" said the ingenuous Louisa.
"Yes, take it, and keep it, for my sake. You know that I broke your
"Oh, but this is a great deal prettier and larger than that."
"Yes, I know it is; and I meant that it should be so. I should only have
done what I was bound to do if I had only given you a mandarin."
"Well," replied Louisa, "and that would have been enough, surely; but
what a beautiful crown of roses! and then that basket of flowers! they
almost look as if I could smell them. Dear Cecilia, I'm very much
obliged to you; but I won't take it by way of payment for the mandarin
you broke; for I'm sure you could not help that, and, besides, I should
have broken it myself by this time. You shall give it to me entirely;
and as your keepsake, I'll keep it as long as I live."
Louisa stopped short and coloured; the word keepsake recalled the box to
her mind, and all the train of ideas which the Flora had banished.
"But," said she, looking up wistfully in Cecilia's face, and holding the
Flora doubtfully, "did you--"
Leonora, who was just quitting the room, turned her head back, and gave
Louisa a look, which silenced her.
Cecilia was so infatuated with her vanity, that she neither perceived
Leonora's sign nor Louisa's confusion, but continued showing off her
present, by placing it in various situations, till at length she put it
into the case, and laying it down with an affected carelessness upon the
bed, "I must go now, Louisa. Good-bye," said she, running up and kissing
her; "but I'll come again presently," then, clapping the door after her
she went. But as soon as the formentation of her spirits subsided, the
sense of shame, which had been scarcely felt when mixed with so many
other sensations, rose uppermost in her mind. "What!" said she to
herself, "is it possible that I have sold what I promised to keep for
ever? and what Leonora gave me? and I have concealed it too, and have
been making a parade of my generosity. Oh! what would Leonora, what
would Louisa--what would everybody think of me, if the truth were known?"
Humiliated and grieved by these reflections, Cecilia began to search in
her own mind for some consoling idea. She began to compare her conduct
with that of others of her own age; and at length, fixing her comparison
upon her brother George, as the companion of whom, from her infancy, she
had been habitually the most emulous, she recollected that an almost
similar circumstance had once happened to him, and that he had not only
escaped disgrace, but had acquired glory, by an intrepid confession of
his fault. Her father's word to her brother, on the occasion, she also
"Come to me, George," he said holding out his hand, "you are a generous,
brave boy: they who dare to confess their faults will make great and
These were his words; but Cecilia, in repeating them to herself, forgot
to lay that emphasis on the word MEN, which would have placed it in
contradistinction to the word WOMEN. She willingly believed that the
observation extended equally to both sexes, and flattered herself that
she should exceed her brother in merit if she owned a fault, which she
thought that it would be so much more difficult to confess. "Yes, but,"
said she, stopping herself, "how can I confess it? This very evening, in
a few hours, the prize will be decided. Leonora or I shall win it. I
have now as good a chance as Leonora, perhaps a better; and must I give
up all my hopes--all that I have been labouring for this month past? Oh,
I never can! If it were but to-morrow, or yesterday, or any day but
this, I would not hesitate; but now I am almost certain of the prize, and
if I win it--well, why then I will--I think I will tell all--yes I will;
I am determined," said Cecilia.
Here a bell summoned them to dinner. Leonora sat opposite to her, and
she was not a little surprised to see Cecilia look so gay and
unconstrained. "Surely," said she to herself, "if Cecilia had done that
which I suspect, she would not, she could not, look as she does." But
Leonora little knew the cause of her gaiety. Cecilia was never in higher
spirits, or better pleased with herself, than when she had resolved upon
a sacrifice or a confession.
"Must not this evening be given to the most amiable? Whose, then, will
it be?" All eyes glanced first at Cecilia, and then at Leonora. Cecilia
smiled; Leonora blushed. "I see that it is not yet decided," said Mrs.
Villars; and immediately they ran upstairs, amidst confused whisperings.
Cecilia's voice could be distinguished far above the rest. "How can she
be so happy!" said Leonora to herself. "Oh Cecilia, there was a time
when you could not have neglected me so! when we were always together the
best of friends and companions; our wishes, tastes, and pleasures the
same! Surely she did once love me," said Leonora; "but now she is quite
changed. She has even sold my keepsake; and she would rather win a
bracelet of hair from girls whom she did not always think so much
superior to Leonora, than have my esteem, my confidence, and my
friendship for her whole life--yes, for her whole life, for I am sure she
will be an amiable woman. Oh, that this bracelet had never been thought
of, or that I were certain of her winning it; for I am sure that I do not
wish to win it from her. I would rather--a thousand times rather--that
we were as we used to be than have all the glory in the world. And how
pleasing Cecilia can be when she wishes to please!--how candid she is!--
how much she can improve herself! Let me be just, though she has
offended me; she is wonderfully improved within this last month. For one
fault, and THAT against myself, shall I forget all her merits?"
As Leonora said these last words, she could but just hear the voices of
her companions. They had left her alone in the gallery. She knocked
softly at Louisa's door. "Come in," said Louisa; "I'm not asleep. Oh,"
said she, starting up with the Flora in her hand, the instant that the
door was opened; "I'm so glad you are come, Leonora, for I did so long to
hear what you all were making such a noise about. Have you forgot that
"Oh, yes! is this the evening?" inquired Leonora.
"Well, here's my white shell for you," said Louisa. "I've kept it in my
pocket this fortnight; and though Cecilia did give me this Flora, I still
love you a great deal better."
"I thank you, Louisa," said Leonora, gratefully. "I will take your
shell, and I shall value it as long as I live; but here is a red one, and
if you wish to show me that you love me, you will give this to Cecilia.
I know that she is particularly anxious for your preference, and I am
sure that she deserves it."
"Yes, if I could I would choose both of you," said Louisa, "but you know
I can only choose which I like the best."
"If you mean, my dear Louisa," said Leonora, "that you like me the best,
I am very much obliged to you, for, indeed, I wish you to love me; but it
is enough for me to know it in private. I should not feel the least more
pleasure at hearing it in public, or in having it made known to all my
companions, especially at a time when it would give poor Cecilia a great
deal of pain."
"But why should it give her pain?" asked Louisa; "I don't like her for
being jealous of you."
"Nay, Louisa, surely you don't think Cecilia jealous? She only tries to
excel, and to please; she is more anxious to succeed than I am, it is
true, because she has a great deal more activity, and perhaps more
ambition. And it would really mortify her to lose this prize--you know
that she proposed it herself. It has been her object for this month
past, and I am sure she has taken great pains to obtain it."
"But, dear Leonora, why should you lose it?"
"Indeed, my dear, it would be no loss to me; and, if it were, I would
willingly suffer it for Cecilia; for, though we seem not to be such good
friends as we used to be, I love her very much, and she will love me
again--I'm sure she will; when she no longer fears me as a rival, she
will again love me as a friend."
Here Leonora heard a number of her companions running along the gallery.
They all knocked hastily at the door, calling "Leonora! Leonora! will you
never come? Cecilia has been with us this half-hour."
Leonora smiled. "Well, Louisa," said she, smiling, "will you promise
"Oh, I am sure, by the way they speak to you, that they won't give you
the prize!" said the little Louisa, and the tears started into her eyes.
"They love me, though, for all that," said Leonora; "and as for the
prize, you know whom I wish to have it."
"Leonora! Leonora!" called her impatient companions; "don't you hear us?
What are you about?"
"Oh, she never will take any trouble about anything," said one of the
party; "let's go away."
"Oh, go, go! make haste!" cried Louisa; "don't stay; they are so angry."
"Remember, then, that you have promised me," said Leonora, and she left
During all this time, Cecilia had been in the garden with her companions.
The ambition which she had felt to win the first prize--the prize of
superior talents and superior application--was not to be compared to the
absolute anxiety which she now expressed to win this simple testimony of
the love and approbation of her equals and rivals.
To employ her exuberant activity, Cecilia had been dragging branches of
lilacs and laburnums, roses and sweet briar, to ornament the bower in
which her fate was to be decided. It was excessively hot, but her mind
was engaged, and she was indefatigable. She stood still at last to
admire her works. Her companions all joined in loud applause. They were
not a little prejudiced in her favour by the great eagerness which she
expressed to win their prize, and by the great importance which she
seemed to affix to the preference of each individual. At last, "Where is
Leonora?" cried one of them; and immediately, as we have seen, they ran
to call her.
Cecilia was left alone. Overcome with heat and too violent exertion, she
had hardly strength to support herself; each moment appeared to her
intolerably long. She was in a state of the utmost suspense, and all her
courage failed her. Even hope forsook her; and hope is a cordial which
leaves the mind depressed and enfeebled.
"The time is now come," said Cecilia; "in a few moments all will be
decided. In a few moments--goodness! How much do I hazard? If I should
not win the prize, how shall I confess what I have done? How shall I beg
Leonora to forgive me? I, who hoped to restore my friendship to her as
an honour! They are gone to seek for her. The moment she appears I
shall be forgotten. What--what shall I do?" said Cecilia, covering her
face with her hands.
Such was Cecilia's situation when Leonora, accompanied by her companions,
opened the hall door. They most of them ran forwards to Cecilia. As
Leonora came into the bower, she held out her hand to Cecilia. "We are
not rivals, but friends, I hope," said she. Cecilia clasped her hand;
but she was in too great agitation to speak.
The table was now set in the arbour--the vase was now placed in the
middle. "Well!" said Cecilia, eagerly, "who begins?" Caroline, one of
her friends, came forward first, and then all the others successively.
Cecilia's emotion was hardly conceivable. "Now they are all in! Count
"One, two, three, four; the numbers are both equal." There was a dead
silence. "No, they are not," exclaimed Cecilia, pressing forward, and
putting a shell into a vase. "I have not given mine, and I give it to
Leonora." Then, snatching the bracelet, "It is yours, Leonora," said
she; "take it, and give me back your friendship." The whole assembly
gave one universal clap and a general shout of applause.
"I cannot be surprised at this from you, Cecilia," said Leonora; "and do
you then still love me as you used to do?"
"Oh, Leonora, stop! don't praise me; I don't deserve this," said she,
turning to her loudly applauding companions. "You will soon despise me.
Oh, Leonora, you will never forgive me! I have deceived you; I have
At this instant, Mrs. Villars appeared. The crowd divided. She had
heard all that passed, from her window. "I applaud your generosity,
Cecilia," said she, "but I am to tell you that, in this instance it is
unsuccessful. You have not it in your power to give the prize to
Leonora. It is yours. I have another vote to give to you. You have
"Louisa!" exclaimed Cecilia; "but surely, ma'am, Louisa loves Leonora
better than she does me."
"She commissioned me, however," said Mrs. Villars, "to give you a red
shell; and you will find it in this box."
Cecilia started, and turned as pale as death; it was the fatal box!
Mrs. Villars produced another box. She opened it; it contained the
Flora. "And Louisa also desired me," said she, "to return to you this
Flora." She put it into Cecilia's hand. Cecilia trembled so that she
could not hold it. Leonora caught it.
"Oh, madam! Oh, Leonora!" exclaimed Cecilia; "now I have no hope left.
I intended--I was just going to tell--"
"Dear Cecilia," said Leonora, "you need not tell it me; I know it
already; and I forgive you with all my heart."
"Yes, I can prove to you," said Mrs. Villars, "that Leonora has forgiven
you. It is she who has given you the prize; it was she who persuaded
Louisa to give you her vote. I went to see her a little while ago; and
perceiving, by her countenance, that something was the matter, I pressed
her to tell me what it was.
"'Why, madam,' said she, 'Leonora has made me promise to give my shell to
Cecilia. Now I don't love Cecilia half so well as I do Leonora.
Besides, I would not have Cecilia think I vote for her because she gave
me a Flora.' Whilst Louisa was speaking," continued Mrs. Villars, "I saw
this silver box lying on the bed. I took it up, and asked if it was not
yours, and how she came by it. 'Indeed, madam,' said Louisa, 'I could
have been almost certain that it was Cecilia's; but Leonora gave it me,
and she said that she bought it of the peddler this morning. If anybody
else had told me so, I could not have believed them, because I remember
the box so well; but I can't help believing Leonora.' But did not you
ask Cecilia about it? said I. 'No, madam,' replied Louisa; 'for Leonora
forbade me. I guessed her reason.' Well, said I, give me the box, and I
will carry your shell in it to Cecilia. 'Then, madam,' said she, 'if I
must give it her, pray do take the Flora, and return it to her first,
that she may not think it is for that I do it.'"
"Oh, generous Louisa!" exclaimed Cecilia; "but, indeed, Leonora, I cannot
take your shell."
"Then, dear Cecilia, accept of mine instead of it! you cannot refuse it;
I only follow your example. As for the bracelet," added Leonora, taking
Cecilia's hand, "I assure you I don't wish for it, and you do, and you
"No," said Cecilia, "indeed, I do not deserve it. Next to you, surely
Louisa deserves it best."
"Louisa! oh, yes, Louisa," exclaimed everybody with one voice.
"Yes," said Mrs. Villars, "and let Cecilia carry the bracelet to her; she
deserves that reward. For one fault I cannot forget all your merits,
Cecilia, nor, I am sure, will your companions."
"Then, surely, not your best friend," said Leonora, kissing her.
Everybody present was moved. They looked up to Leonora with respectful
and affectionate admiration.
"Oh, Leonora, how I love you! and how I wish to be like you!" exclaimed
Cecilia--"to be as good, as generous!"
"Rather wish, Cecilia," interrupted Mrs. Villars, "to be as just; to be
as strictly honourable, and as invariably consistent. Remember, that
many of our sex are capable of great efforts--of making what they call
great sacrifices to virtue or to friendship; but few treat their friends
with habitual gentleness, or uniformly conduct themselves with prudence
and good sense."
THE LITTLE MERCHANTS.
Chi di gallina nasce, convien che rozole.
As the old cock crows, so crows the young.
Those who have visited Italy give us an agreeable picture of the cheerful
industry of the children of all ages in the celebrated city of Naples.
Their manner of living and their numerous employments are exactly
described in the following "Extract from a Traveller's Journal." *
* Varieties of Literature, vol. i. p. 299.
"The children are busied in various ways. A great number of them bring
fish for sale to town from Santa Lucia; others are very often seen about
the arsenals, or wherever carpenters are at work, employed in gathering
up the chips and pieces of wood; or by the sea-side, picking up sticks,
and whatever else has drifted ashore, which, when their basket is full,
they carry away.
"Children of two or three years old, who can scarcely crawl along upon
the ground, in company with boys of five or six, are employed in this
pretty trade. Hence they proceed with their baskets into the heart of
the city, where in several places they form a sort of little market,
sitting round with their stock of wood before them. Labourers, and the
lower order of citizens, buy it of them to burn in the tripods for
warming themselves, or to use in their scanty kitchens.
"Other children carry about for sale the water of the sulphurous wells,
which, particularly in the spring season, is drunk in great abundance.
Others again endeavour to turn a few pence by buying a small matter of
fruit, of pressed honey, cakes, and comfits, and then, like little
peddlers, offer and sell them to other children, always for no more
profit than that they may have their share of them free of expense.
"It is really curious to see how an urchin, whose whole stock and
property consist in a board and a knife, will carry about a water-melon,
or a half roasted gourd, collect a troup of children round him, set down
his board, and proceed to divide the fruit into small pieces among them.
"The buyers keep a sharp look out to see that they have enough for their
little piece of copper; and the Lilliputian tradesmen act with no less
caution as the exigencies of the case may require, to prevent his being
cheated out of a morsel."
The advantages of truth and honesty, and the value of a character for
integrity, are very early felt amongst these little merchants in their
daily intercourse with each other. The fair dealer is always sooner or
later seen to prosper. The most cunning cheat is at last detected and
Numerous instances of the truth of this common observation were remarked
by many Neapolitan children, especially by those who were acquainted with
the characters and history of Piedro and Francisco, two boys originally
equal in birth, fortune and capacity, but different in their education,
and consequently in their habits and conduct. Francisco was the son of
an honest gardener, who, from the time he could speak, taught him to love
to speak the truth, showed him that liars are never believed--that cheats
and thieves cannot be trusted, and that the shortest way to obtain a good
character is to deserve it.
Youth and white paper, as the proverb says, take all impressions. The
boy profited much by his father's precepts, and more by his example; he
always heard his father speak the truth, and saw that he dealt fairly
with everybody. In all his childish traffic, Francisco, imitating his
parents, was scrupulously honest, and therefore all his companions
trusted him--"As honest as Francisco," became a sort of proverb amongst
"As honest as Francisco," repeated Piedro's father, when he one day heard
this saying. "Let them say so; I say, 'As sharp as Piedro'; and let us
see which will go through the world best." With the idea of making his
son SHARP he made him cunning. He taught him, that to make a GOOD
BARGAIN was to deceive as to the value and price of whatever he wanted to
dispose of; to get as much money as possible from customers by taking
advantage of their ignorance or of their confidence. He often repeated
his favourite proverb--"The buyer has need of a hundred eyes; the seller
has need but of one." * And he took frequent opportunities of explaining
the meaning of this maxim to his son. He was a fisherman; and as his
gains depended more upon fortune than upon prudence, he trusted
habitually to his good luck. After being idle for a whole day, he would
cast his line or his nets, and if he was lucky enough to catch a fine
fish, he would go and show it in triumph to his neighbour the gardener.
* Chi compra ha bisogna di cent' occhi; chi vende n'ha assai di uno.
"You are obliged to work all day long for your daily bread," he would
say. "Look here; I work but five minutes, and I have not only daily
bread, but daily fish."
Upon these occasions, our fisherman always forgot, or neglected to count,
the hours and days which were wasted in waiting for a fair wind to put to
sea, or angling in vain on the shore.
Little Piedro, who used to bask in the sun upon the sea-shore beside his
father, and to lounge or sleep away his time in a fishing-boat, acquired
habits of idleness, which seemed to his father of little consequence
whilst he was BUT A CHILD.
"What will you do with Piedro as he grows up, neighbour?" said the
gardener. "He is smart and quick enough, but he is always in mischief.
Scarcely a day has passed for this fortnight but I have caught him
amongst my grapes. I track his footsteps all over my vineyard."
"HE IS BUT A CHILD yet, and knows no better," replied the fisherman.
"But if you don't teach him better now he is a child, how will he know
when he is a man?" said the gardener.
"A mighty noise about a bunch of grapes, truly!" cried the fisherman: "a
few grapes more or less in your vineyard, what does it signify?"
"I speak for your son's sake, and not for the sake of my grapes," said
the gardener; "and I tell you again, the boy will not do well in the
world, neighbour, if you don't look after him in time."
"He'll do well enough in the world, you will find," answered the
fisherman, carelessly. "Whenever he casts my nets, they never come up
empty. 'It is better to be lucky than wise.'" *
* E meglio esser fortunato che savio.
This was a proverb which Piedro had frequently heard from his father, and
to which he most willingly trusted, because it gave him less trouble to
fancy himself fortunate than to make himself wise.
"Come here, child," said his father to him, when he returned home after
the preceding conversation with the gardener; "how old are you, my boy?--
twelve years old, is not it?"
"As old as Francisco, and older by six months," said Piedro.
"And smarter and more knowing by six years," said his father. "Here,
take these fish to Naples, and let us see how you'll sell them for me.
Venture a small fish, as the proverb says, to catch a great one. * I was
too late with them at the market yesterday, but nobody will know but what
they are just fresh out of the water, unless you go and tell them."
* Butta una sardella per pigliar un luccio.
"Not I; trust me for that; I'm not such a fool," replied Piedro,
laughing; "I leave that to Francisco. Do you know, I saw him the other
day miss selling a melon for his father by turning the bruised side to
the customer, who was just laying down the money for it, and who was a
raw servant-boy, moreover--one who would never have guessed there were
two sides to a melon, if he had not, as you say, father, been told of
"Off with you to market. You are a droll chap," said his father, "and
will sell my fish cleverly, I'll be bound. As to the rest, let every man
take care of his own grapes. You understand me, Piedro?"
"Perfectly," said the boy, who perceived that his father was indifferent
as to his honesty, provided he sold fish at the highest price possible.
He proceeded to the market, and he offered his fish with assiduity to
every person whom he thought likely to buy it, especially to those upon
whom he thought he could impose. He positively asserted to all who
looked at his fish, that they were just fresh out of the water. Good
judges of men and fish knew that he said what was false, and passed him
by with neglect; but it was at last what he called GOOD LUCK to meet with
the very same young raw servant-boy who would have bought the bruised
melon from Francisco. He made up to him directly, crying, "Fish! Fine
fresh fish! fresh fish!"
"Was it caught to-day?" said the boy.
"Yes, this morning; not an hour ago," said Piedro, with the greatest
The servant-boy was imposed upon; and being a foreigner, speaking the
Italian language but imperfectly, and not being expert at reckoning the
Italian money, he was no match for the cunning Piedro, who cheated him
not only as to the freshness, but as to the price of the commodity.
Piedro received nearly half as much again for his fish as he ought to
On his road homewards from Naples to the little village of Resina, where
his father lived, he overtook Francisco, who was leading his father's
ass. The ass was laden with large panniers, which were filled with the
stalks and leaves of cauliflowers, cabbages, broccoli, lettuces, etc.--
all the refuse of the Neapolitan kitchens, which are usually collected by
the gardeners' boys, and carried to the gardens round Naples, to be mixed
with other manure.
"Well filled panniers, truly," said Piedro, as he overtook Francisco and
the ass. The panniers were indeed not only filled to the top, but piled
up with much skill and care, so that the load met over the animal's back.
"It is not a very heavy load for the ass, though it looks so large," said
Francisco. "The poor fellow, however, shall have a little of this
water," added he, leading the ass to a pool by the roadside.
"I was not thinking of the ass, boy; I was not thinking of any ass, but
of you, when I said, 'Well filled panniers, truly!' This is your
morning's work, I presume, and you'll make another journey to Naples to-
day, on the same errand, I warrant, before your father thinks you have
"Not before MY FATHER thinks I have done enough, but before I think so
myself," replied Francisco.
"I do enough to satisfy myself and my father, too," said Piedro, "without
slaving myself after your fashion. Look here," producing the money he
had received for the fish; "all this was had for asking. It is no bad
thing, you'll allow, to know how to ask for money properly."
"I should be ashamed to beg, or borrow either," said Francisco.
"Neither did I get what you see by begging, or borrowing either," said
Piedro, "but by using my wits; not as you did yesterday, when, like a
novice, you showed the bruised side of your melon, and so spoiled your
market by your wisdom."
"Wisdom I think it still," said Francisco.
"And your father?" asked Piedro.
"And my father," said Francisco.
"Mine is of a different way of thinking," said Piedro. "He always tells
me that the buyer has need of a hundred eyes, and if one can blind the
whole hundred, so much the better. You must know, I got off the fish to-
day that my father could not sell yesterday in the market--got it off for
fresh just out of the river--got twice as much as the market price for
it; and from whom, think you? Why, from the very booby that would have
bought the bruised melon for a sound one if you would have let him.
You'll allow I'm no fool, Francisco, and that I'm in a fair way to grow
rich, if I go on as I have begun."
"Stay," said Francisco; "you forgot that the booby you took in to-day
will not be so easily taken in to-morrow. He will buy no more fish from
you, because he will be afraid of your cheating him; but he will be ready
enough to buy fruit from me, because he will know I shall not cheat him--
so you'll have lost a customer, and I gained one."
"With all my heart," said Piedro. "One customer does not make a market;
if he buys no more from me, what care I? there are people enough to buy
fish in Naples."
"And do you mean to serve them all in the same manner?" asked Francisco.
"If they will be only so good as to give me leave," said Piedro,
laughing, and repeating his father's proverb, "'Venture a small fish to
catch a large one.'" * He had learned to think that to cheat in making
bargains was witty and clever.
* see anted.
"And you have never considered, then," said Francisco, "that all these
people will, one after another, find you out in time?"
"Ay, in time; but it will be some time first. There are a great many of
them, enough to last me all the summer, if I lose a customer a day," said
"And next summer," observed Francisco, "what will you do?"
"Next summer is not come yet; there is time enough to think what I shall
do before next summer comes. Why, now, suppose the blockheads, after
they had been taken in and found it out, all joined against me, and would
buy none of our fish--what then? Are there no trades but that of a
fisherman? In Naples, are there not a hundred ways of making money for a
smart lad like me? as my father says. What do you think of turning
merchant, and selling sugar-plums and cakes to the children in their
market? Would they be hard to deal with, think you?"
"I think not," said Francisco; "but I think the children would find out
in time if they were cheated, and would like it as little as the men."
"I don't doubt them. Then IN TIME I could, you know, change my trade--
sell chips and sticks in the wood-market--hand about the lemonade to the
fine folks, or twenty other things. There are trades enough, boy."
"Yes, for the honest dealer," said Francisco, "but for no other; for in
all of them you'll find, as MY father says, that a good character is the
best fortune to set up with. Change your trade ever so often, you'll be
found out for what you are at last."
"And what am I, pray?" said Piedro, angrily. "The whole truth of the
matter is, Francisco, that you envy my good luck, and can't bear to hear
this money jingle in my hand. Ay, stroke the long ears of your ass, and
look as wise as you please. It's better to be lucky than wise, as MY
father says. Good morning to you. When I am found out for what I am, or
when the worst comes to the worst, I can drive a stupid ass, with his
panniers filled with rubbish, as well as you do now, HONEST FRANCISCO."
"Not quite so well. Unless you were HONEST FRANCISCO, you would not fill
his panniers quite so readily.".
This was certain, that Francisco was so well known for his honesty
amongst all the people at Naples with whom his father was acquainted,
that everyone was glad to deal with him; and as he never wronged anyone,
all were willing to serve him--at least, as much as they could without
loss to themselves: so that after the market was over, his panniers were
regularly filled by the gardeners and others with whatever he wanted.
His industry was constant, his gains small but certain, and he every day
had more and more reason to trust to his father's maxim--That honesty is
the best policy.
The foreign servant lad, to whom Francisco had so honestly, or, as Piedro
said, so sillily, shown the bruised side of the melon, was an Englishman.
He left his native country, of which he was extremely fond, to attend
upon his master, to whom he was still more attached. His master was in a
declining state of health, and this young lad waited on him a little more
to his mind than his other servants. We must, in consideration of his
zeal, fidelity and inexperience, pardon him for not being a good judge of
fish. Though he had simplicity enough to be easily cheated once, he had
too much sense to be twice made a dupe. The next time he met Piedro in
the market, he happened to be in company with several English gentlemen's
servants, and he pointed Piedro out to them all as an arrant knave. They
heard his cry of "Fresh fish! fresh fish! fine fresh fish!" with
incredulous smiles, and let him pass, but not without some expressions of
contempt, though uttered in English, he tolerably well understood; for
the tone of contempt is sufficiently expressive in all languages. He
lost more by not selling his fish to these people than he had gained the
day before by cheating the ENGLISH BOOBY. The market was well supplied,
and he could not get rid of his cargo.
"Is not this truly provoking?" said Piedro, as he passed by Francisco,
who was selling fruit for his father. "Look, my basket is as heavy as
when I left home and look at 'em yourself, they really are fine fresh
fish to-day and yet, because that revengeful booby told how I took him in
yesterday, not one of yonder crowd would buy them; and all the time they
really are fresh to-day!"
"So they are," said Franscisco, "but you said so yesterday, when they
were not; and he that was duped then, is not ready to believe you to-day.
How does he know that you deserve it better?"
"He might have looked at the fish," repeated Piedro; "they are fresh to-
day. I am sure he need not have been afraid."
"Ay," said Francisco; "but as my father said to you once--the scalded dog
fears cold water." *
* Il cane scottato dell' acqua calda ha paura poi della fredda.
Here their conversation was interrupted by the same English lad, who
smiled as he came up to Francisco, and taking up a fine pine-apple, he
said, in a mixture of bad Italian and English--"I need not look at the
other side of this; you will tell me if it is not as good as it looks.
Name your price; I know you have but one, and that an honest one; and as
to the rest, I am able and willing to pay for what I buy; that is to say,
my master is, which comes to the same thing. I wish your fruit could
make him well, and it would be worth its weight in gold to me, at least.
We must have some of your grapes for him."
"Is he not well?" inquired Francisco. "We must, then, pick out the best
for him," at the same time singling out a tempting bunch. "I hope he
will like these; but if you could some day come as far as Resina (it is a
village but a few miles out of town, where we have our vineyard), you
could there choose for yourself, and pluck them fresh from the vines for
your poor master."
"Bless you, my good boy; I should take you for an Englishman, by your way
of dealing. I'll come to your village. Only write me down the name; for
your Italian names slip through my head. I'll come to the vineyard if it
was ten miles off; and all the time we stay in Naples (may it not be so
long as I fear it will!), with my master's leave, which he never refuses
me to anything that's proper, I'll deal with you for all our fruit, as
sure as my name's Arthur, and with none else, with my good will. I wish
all your countrymen would take after you in honesty, indeed I do,"
concluded the Englishman, looking full at Piedro, who took up his unsold
basket of fish, looking somewhat silly, and gloomily walked off.
Arthur, the English servant, was as good as his word. He dealt
constantly with Francisco, and proved an excellent customer, buying from
him during the whole season as much fruit as his master wanted. His
master, who was an Englishman of distinction, was invited to take up his
residence, during his stay in Italy, at the Count de F.'s villa, which
was in the environs of Naples--an easy walk from Resina. Francisco had
the pleasure of seeing his father's vineyard often full of generous
visitors, and Arthur, who had circulated the anecdote of the bruised
melon, was, he said, "proud to think that some of this was his doing, and
that an Englishman never forgot a good turn, be it from a countryman or
"My dear boy," said Francisco's father to him, whilst Arthur was in the
vineyard helping to tend the vines, "I am to thank you and your honesty,
it seems, for our having our hands so full of business this season. It
is fair you should have a share of our profits."
"So I have, father, enough and enough, when I see you and mother going on
so well. What can I want more?"
"Oh, my brave boy, we know you are a grateful, good son; but I have been
your age myself; you have companions, you have little expenses of your
own. Here; this vine, this fig-tree, and a melon a week next summer
shall be yours. With these make a fine figure amongst the little
Neapolitan merchants; and all I wish is that you may prosper as well, and
by the same honest means, in managing for yourself, as you have done
managing for me."
"Thank you, father; and if I prosper at all, it shall be by those means,
and no other, or I should not be worthy to be called your son."
Piedro the cunning did not make quite so successful a summer's work as
did Francisco the honest. No extraordinary events happened, no singular
instance of bad or good luck occurred; but he felt, as persons usually
do, the natural consequences of his own actions. He pursued his scheme
of imposing, as far as he could, upon every person he dealt with; and the
consequence was, that at last nobody would deal with him.
"It is easy to outwit one person, but impossible to outwit all the
world," said a man * who knew the world at least as well as either Piedro
or his father.
* The Duke de Rochefoucault.--"On peut etre puls fin qu'un autre, mais
pas plus fin que tous les autres."
Piedro's father, amongst others, had reason to complain. He saw his own
customers fall off from him, and was told, whenever he went into the
market, that his son was such a cheat there was no dealing with him. One
day, when he was returning from the market in a very bad humour, in
consequence of these reproaches, and of his not having found customers
for his goods, he espied his SMART son Piedro at a little merchant's
fruit-board devouring a fine gourd with prodigious greediness. "Where,
glutton, do you find money to pay for these dainties?" exclaimed his
father, coming close up to him, with angry gestures. Piedro's mouth was
much too full to make an immediate reply, nor did his father wait for
any, but darting his hand into the youth's pocket, pulled forth a handful
"The money, father," said Piedro, "that I got for the fish yesterday, and
that I meant to give you to-day, before you went out."
"Then I'll make you remember it against another time, sirrah!" said his
father. "I'll teach you to fill your stomach with my money. Am I to
lose my customers by your tricks, and then find you here eating my all?
You are a rogue, and everybody has found you out to be a rogue; and the
worst of rogues I find you, who scruples not to cheat his own father."
Saying these words, with great vehemence he seized hold of Piedro, and in
the very midst of the little fruit-market gave him a severe beating.
This beating did the boy no good; it was vengeance not punishment.
Piedro saw that his father was in a passion, and knew that he was beaten
because he was found out to be a rogue, rather than for being one. He
recollected perfectly that his father once said to him: "Let everyone
take care of his own grapes."
Indeed it was scarcely reasonable to expect that a boy who had been
educated to think that he might cheat every customer he could in the way
of trade, should be afterwards scrupulously honest in his conduct towards
the father whose proverbs encouraged his childhood in cunning.
Piedro writhed with bodily pain as he left the market after his drubbing,
but his mind was not in the least amended. On the contrary, he was
hardened to the sense of shame by the loss of reputation. All the little
merchants were spectators of this scene, and heard his father's words:
"You ARE a rogue, and the worst of rogues, who scruples not to cheat his
These words were long remembered, and long did Piedro feel their effects.
He once flattered himself that, when his trade of selling fish failed
him, he could readily engage in some other; but he now found, to his
mortification, that what Francisco's father said proved true: "In all
trades the best fortune to set up with is a good character."
Not one of the little Neapolitan merchants would either enter into
partnership with him, give him credit, or even trade with him for ready
money. "If you would cheat your own father, to be sure you will cheat
us," was continually said to him by these prudent little people.
Piedro was taunted and treated with contempt at home and abroad. His
father, when he found that his son's smartness was no longer useful in
making bargains, shoved him out of his way whenever he met him. All the
food or clothes that he had at home seemed to be given to him grudgingly,
and with such expressions as these: "Take that; but it is too good for
you. You must eat this, now, instead of gourds and figs--and be thankful
you have even this."
Piedro spent a whole winter very unhappily. He expected that all his old
tricks, and especially what his father had said of him in the market-
place, would be soon forgotten; but month passed after month, and still
these things were fresh in the memory of all who had known them.
It is not easy to get rid of a bad character. A very great rogue * was
once heard to say, that he would, with all his heart, give ten thousand
pounds for a good character, because he knew that he could make twenty
thousand by it.
Something like this was the sentiment of our cunning hero when he
experienced the evils of a bad reputation, and when he saw the numerous
advantages which Francisco's good character procured. Such had been
Piedro's wretched education, that even the hard lessons of experience
could not alter its pernicious effects. He was sorry his knavery had
been detected, but he still thought it clever to cheat, and was secretly
persuaded that, if he had cheated successfully, he should have been
happy. "But I know I am not happy now," said he to himself one morning,
as he sat alone disconsolate by the sea-shore, dressed in tattered
garments, weak and hungry, with an empty basket beside him. His fishing-
rod, which he held between his knees, bent over the dry sands instead of
into the water, for he was not thinking of what he was about; his arms
were folded, his head hung down, and his ragged hat was slouched over his
face. He was a melancholy spectacle.
Francisco, as he was coming from his father's vineyard with a large dish
of purple and white grapes upon his head, and a basket of melons and figs
hanging upon his arm, chanced to see Piedro seated in this melancholy
posture. Touched with compassion, Francisco approached him softly; his
footsteps were not heard upon the sands, and Piedro did not perceive that
anyone was near him till he felt something cold touch his hand; he then
started, and, looking up, saw a bunch of grapes, which Francisco was
holding over his head.
"Eat them: you'll find them very good, I hope," said Francisco, with a
"They are excellent--most excellent, and I am much obliged to you,
Francisco," said Piedro. "I was very hungry, and that's what I am now,
without anybody's caring anything about it. I am not the favourite I was
with my father, but I know it is all my own fault."
"Well, but cheer up," said Francisco; "my father always says, 'One who
knows he has been in fault, and acknowledges it, will scarcely be in
fault again.' Yes, take as many figs as you will," continued he; and
held his basket closer to Piedro, who, as he saw, cast a hungry eye upon
one of the ripe figs.
"But," said Piedro, after he had taken several, "shall not I get you into
a scrape by taking so many? Won't your father be apt to miss them?"
"Do you think I would give them to you if they were not my own?" said
Francisco, with a sudden glance of indignation.
"Well, don't be angry that I asked the question; it was only from fear of
getting you into disgrace that I asked it."
"It would not be easy for anybody to do that, I hope," said Francisco,
"And to me less than anybody," replied Piedro, in an insinuating tone,
"_I,_ that am so much obliged to you!"
"A bunch of grapes, and a few figs, are no mighty obligation," said
Francisco, smiling; "I wish I could do more for you. You seem, indeed,
to have been very unhappy of late. We never see you in the markets as we
used to do."
"No; ever since my father beat me, and called me rogue before all the
children there, I have never been able to show my face without being
gibed at by one or t'other. If you would but take me along with you
amongst them, and only just SEEM my friend, for a day or two, or so, it
would quite set me up again; for they all like you."
"I would rather BE than seem your friend, if I could," said Francisco.
"Ay, to be sure; that would be still better," said Piedro, observing that
Francisco, as he uttered his last sentence, was separating the grapes and
other fruits into two equal divisions. "To be sure I would rather you
would BE than SEEM a friend to me; but I thought that was too much to ask
at first, though I have a notion, notwithstanding I have been so UNLUCKY
lately--I have a notion you would have no reason to repent of it. You
would find me no bad hand, if you were to try, and take me into
"Partnership!" interrupted Francisco, drawing back alarmed; "I had no
thoughts of that."
"But won't you? can't you?" said Piedro, in a supplicating tone; "CAN'T
you have thoughts of it? You'd find me a very active partner."
Franscisco still drew back, and kept his eyes fixed upon the ground. He
was embarrassed; for he pitied Piedro, and he scarcely knew how to point
out to him that something more is necessary in a partner in trade besides
activity, and that is honesty.
"Can't you?" repeated Piedro, thinking that he hesitated from merely
mercenary motives. "You shall have what share of the profits you
"I was not thinking of the profits," said Francisco; "but without
meaning to be ill-natured to you, Piedro, I must say that I cannot enter
into any partnership with you at present; but I will do what, perhaps,
you will like as well," said he, taking half the fruit out of his basket;
"you are heartily welcome to this; try and sell it in the children's
fruit market. I'll go on before you, and speak to those I am acquainted
with, and tell them you are going to set up a new character, and that you
hope to make it a good one."
"Hey, shall I! Thank you for ever, dear Francisco," cried Piedro,
seizing his plentiful gift of fruit. "Say what you please for me."
"But don't make me say anything that is not true," said Francisco,
"No, to be sure not," said Piedro; "I DO mean to give no room for
scandal. If I could get them to trust me as they do you, I should be
"That is what you may do, if you please," said Francisco. "Adieu, I wish
you well with all my heart; but I must leave you now, or I shall be too
late for the market."
Chi va piano va sano, e anche lontano.
Fair and softly goes far in a day.
Piedro had now an opportunity of establishing a good character. When he
went into the market with his grapes and figs, he found that he was not
shunned or taunted as usual. All seemed disposed to believe in his
intended reformation, and to give him a fair trial.
These favourable dispositions towards him were the consequence of
Francisco's benevolent representations. He told them that he thought
Piedro had suffered enough to cure him of his tricks, and that it would
be cruelty in them, because he might once have been in fault, to banish
him by their reproaches from amongst them, and thus to prevent him from
the means of gaining his livelihood honestly.
Piedro made a good beginning, and gave what several of the younger
customers thought excellent bargains. His grapes and figs were quickly
sold, and with the money that he got for them he the next day purchased
from a fruit dealer a fresh supply; and thus he went on for some time,
conducting himself with scrupulous honesty, so that he acquired some
credit among his companions. They no longer watched him with suspicious
eyes. They trusted to his measures and weights, and they counted less
carefully the change which they received from him.
The satisfaction he felt from this alteration in their manners was at
first delightful to Piedro; but in proportion to his credit, his
opportunities of defrauding increased; and these became temptations which
he had not the firmness to resist. His old manner of thinking recurred.
"I make but a few shillings a day, and this is but slow work," said he to
himself. "What signifies my good character, if I make so little by it?"
Light gains, and frequent, make a heavy purse, * was one of Francisco's
proverbs. But Piedro was in too great haste to get rich to take time
into his account. He set his invention to work, and he did not want for
ingenuity, to devise means of cheating without running the risk of
detection. He observed that the younger part of the community were
extremely fond of certain coloured sugar plums, and of burnt almonds.
* Poco e spesso empie il l'orsetto.
With the money he had earned by two months' trading in fruit he laid in a
large stock of what appeared to these little merchants a stock of almonds
and sugar-plums, and he painted in capital gold coloured letters upon his
board, "Sweetest, largest, most admirable sugar-plums of all colours ever
sold in Naples, to be had here; and in gratitude to his numerous
customers, Piedro adds to these, 'Burnt almonds gratis.'".
This advertisement attracted the attention of all who could read; and
many who could not read heard it repeated with delight. Crowds of
children surrounded Piedro's board of promise, and they all went away the
first day amply satisfied. Each had a full measure of coloured sugar-
plums at the usual price, and along with these a burnt almond gratis.
The burnt almond had such an effect upon the public judgment, that it was
universally allowed that the sugar-plums were, as the advertisement set
forth, the largest, sweetest, most admirable ever sold in Naples; though
all the time they were, in no respect, better than any other sugar-plums.
It was generally reported that Piedro gave full measure--fuller than any
other board in the city. He measured the sugar-plums in a little cubical
tin box; and this, it was affirmed, he heaped up to the top, and pressed
down before he poured out the contents into the open hands of his
approving customers. This belief, and Piedro's popularity, continued
longer even than he had expected; and, as he thought his sugar-plums had
secured their reputation with the GENEROUS PUBLIC, he gradually neglected
to add burnt almonds gratis.
One day a boy of about ten years old passed carelessly by, whistling as
he went along, and swinging a carpenter's rule in his hand. "Ha! what
have we here?" cried he, stopping to read what was written on Piedro's
board. "This promises rarely. Old as I am, and tall of my age, which
makes the matter worse, I am still as fond of sugar-plums as my little
sister, who is five years younger than I. Come, Signor, fill me quick,
for I'm in haste to taste them, two measures of the sweetest, largest,
most admirable sugar-plums in Naples--one measure for myself and one for
my little Rosetta."
"You'll pay for yourself and your sister, then," said Piedro, "for no
credit is given here."
"No credit do I ask," replied the lively boy; "when I told you I loved
sugar-plums, did I tell you I loved them, or even my sister, so well as
to run in debt for them? Here's for myself, and here's for my sister's
share," said he, laying down his money; "and now for the burnt almonds
gratis, my good fellow."
"They are all out; I have been out of burnt almonds this great while,"
"Then why are they in your advertisement here?" said Carlo.
"I have not had time to scratch them out of the board."
"What! not when you have, by your own account, been out of them a great
while? I did not know it required so much time to blot out a few words--
let us try."; and as he spoke, Carlo, for that was the name of Piedro's
new customer, pulled a bit of white chalk out of his pocket, and drew a
broad score across the line on the board which promised burnt almonds
"You are most impatient," said Piedro; "I shall have a fresh stock of
"Why must the board tell a lie to-day?"
"It would ruin me to alter it," said Piedro.
"A lie may ruin you, but I could scarcely think the truth could."
"You have no right to meddle with me or my board," said Piedro, put off
his guard, and out of his usual soft voice of civility, by this last
observation. "My character, and that of my board, are too firmly
established now for any chance customer like you to injure."
"I never dreamed of injuring you or anyone else," said Carlo--"I wish,
moreover, you may not injure yourself. Do as you please with your board,
but give me my sugar-plums, for I have some right to meddle with those,
having paid for them."
"Hold out your hand, then."
"No, put them in here, if you please; put my sister's, at least, in here;
she likes to have them in this box: I bought some for her in it
yesterday, and she'll think they'll taste the better out of the same box.
But how is this? your measure does not fill my box nearly; you give us
very few sugar-plums for our money."
"I give you full measure, as I give to everybody."
"The measure should be an inch cube, I know," said Carlo; "that's what
all the little merchants have agreed to, you know."
"True," said Piedro, "so it is."
"And so it is, I must allow," said Carlo, measuring the outside of it
with the carpenter's rule which he held in his hand. "An inch every way;
and yet by my eye--and I have no bad one, being used to measuring
carpenter's work for my father--by my eye I should think this would have
held more sugar-plums."
"The eye often deceives us;" said Piedro. "There's nothing like
measuring, you find."
"There's nothing like measuring, I find, indeed," replied Carlo, as he
looked closely at the end of his rule, which, since he spoke last, he had
put into the cube to take its depth in the inside. "This is not as deep
by a quarter of an inch, Signor Piedro, measured within as it is measured
Piedro changed colour terribly, and seizing hold of the tin box,
endeavoured to wrest it from the youth who measured so accurately. Carlo
held his prize fast, and lifting it above his head, he ran into the midst
of the square where the little market was held, exclaiming, "A discovery!
a discovery! that concerns all who love sugar-plums. A discovery! a
discovery that concerns all who have ever bought the sweetest, and most
admirable sugar-plums ever sold in Naples."
The crowd gathered from all parts of the square as he spoke.
"We have bought," and "We have bought of those sugar-plums," cried
several little voices at once, "if you mean Piedro's."
"The same," continued Carlo--"he who, out of gratitude to his numerous
customers, gives, or promises to give, burnt almonds gratis."
"Excellent they were!" cried several voices. "We all know Piedro well;
but what's your discovery?"
"My discovery is," said Carlo, "that you, none of you, know Piedro. Look
you here; look at this box--this is his measure; it has a false bottom--
it holds only three-quarters as much as it ought to do; and his numerous
customers have all been cheated of one-quarter of every measure of the
admirable sugar-plums they have bought from him. 'Think twice of a good
bargain,' says the proverb."
"So we have been finely duped, indeed," cried some of the bystanders,
looking at one another with a mortified air. "Full of courtesy, full of
craft!" * "So this is the meaning of his burnt almonds gratis," cried
others; all joined in an uproar of indignation, except one, who, as he
stood behind the rest, expressed in his countenance silent surprise and
* Chi et FA pi caress che non vole,
O ingannato t'ha, o inganuar et vole.
"Is this Piedro a relation of yours?" said Carlo, going up to this silent
person. "I am sorry, if he be, that I have published his disgrace, for I
would not hurt YOU. You don't sell sugar-plums as he does, I'm sure; for
my little sister Rosetta has often bought from you. Can this Piedro be a
friend of yours?"
"I wished to have been his friend; but I see I can't," said Francisco.
"He is a neighbour of ours, and I pitied him; but since he is at his old
tricks again, there's an end of the matter. I have reason to be obliged
to you, for I was nearly taken in. He has behaved so well for some time
past, that I intended this very evening to have gone to him, and to have
told him that I was willing to do for him what he has long begged of me
to do--to enter into partnership with him."
"Francisco! Francisco!--your measure, lend us your measure!" exclaimed a
number of little merchants crowding round him. "You have a measure for
sugar-plums; and we have all agreed to refer to that, and to see how much
we have been cheated before we go to break Piedro's bench and declare him
bankrupt, *--the punishment for all knaves."
* This word comes from two Italian words, bunco rotto--broken bench.
Bankers and merchants used formerly to count their money, and write their
bills of exchange upon benches in the streets; and when a merchant or
banker lost his credit, and was unable to pay his debts, his bench was
They pressed on to Francisco's board, obtained his measure, found that it
held something more than a quarter above the quantity that could be
contained in Piedro's. The cries of the enraged populace were now most
clamorous. They hung the just and the unjust measures upon high poles;
and, forming themselves into a formidable phalanx, they proceeded towards
Piedro's well known yellow lettered board, exclaiming, as they went
along, "Common cause! common cause! The little Neapolitan merchants will
have no knaves amongst them! Break his bench! break his bench! He is a
bankrupt in honesty."
Piedro saw the mob, heard the indignant clamour, and, terrified at the
approach of numbers, he fled with the utmost precipitation, having
scarcely time to pack up half his sugar-plums. There was a prodigious
number, more than would have filled many honest measures, scattered upon
the ground and trampled under foot by the crowd. Piedro's bench was
broken, and the public vengeance wreaked itself also upon his treacherous
painted board. It was, after being much disfigured by various
inscriptions expressive of the universal contempt for Piedro, hung up in
a conspicuous part of the market-place; and the false measure was
fastened like a cap upon one of its corners. Piedro could never more
show his face in this market, and all hopes of friendship--all hopes of
partnership with Francisco--were for ever at an end.
If rogues would calculate, they would cease to be rogues; for they would
certainly discover that it is most for their interest to be honest--
setting aside the pleasure of being esteemed and beloved, of having a
safe conscience, with perfect freedom from all the various embarrassments
and terror to which knaves are subject. Is it not clear that our crafty
hero would have gained rather more by a partnership with Francisco, and
by a fair character, than he could possibly obtain by fraudulent dealing
When the mob had dispersed, after satisfying themselves with executing
summary justice upon Piedro's bench and board, Francisco found a
carpenter's rule lying upon the ground near Piedro's broken bench, which
he recollected to have seen in the hands of Carlo. He examined it
carefully, and he found Carlo's name written upon it, and the name of the
street where he lived; and though it was considerably out of his way, he
set out immediately to restore the rule, which was a very handsome one,
to its rightful owner. After a hot walk through several streets, he
overtook Carlo, who had just reached the door of his own house. Carlo
was particularly obliged to him, he said, for restoring this rule to him,
as it was a present from the master of a vessel, who employed his father
to do carpenter's work for him. "One should not praise one's self, they
say," continued Carlo, "but I long so much to gain your good opinion,
that I must tell you the whole history of the rule you have restored. It
was given to me for having measured the work and made up the bill of a
whole pleasure-boat myself. You may guess I should have been sorry
enough to have lost it. Thank you for its being once more in my careless
hands, and tell me, I beg, whenever I can do you any service. By-the-by,
I can make up for you a fruit stall. I'll do it to-morrow, and it shall
be the admiration of the market. Is there anything else you could think
of for me?"
"Why, yes," said Francisco; "since you are so good-natured, perhaps you'd
be kind enough to tell me the meaning of some of those lines and figures
that I see upon your rule. I have a great curiosity to know their use."
"That I'll explain to you with pleasure, as far as I know them myself;
but when I'm at fault, my father, who is cleverer than I am, and
understands trigonometry, can help us out."
"Trigonometry!" repeated Francisco, not a little alarmed at the high
sounding word; "that's what I certainly shall never understand."
"Oh, never fear," replied Carlo, laughing. "I looked just as you do now-
-I felt just as you do now--all in a fright and a puzzle, when I first
heard of angles and sines, and cosines, and arcs and centres, and
complements and tangents."
"Oh mercy! mercy!" interrupted Francisco, whilst Carlo laughed, with a
benevolent sense of superiority.
"Why," said Carlo, "you'll find all these things are nothing when you are
used to them. But I cannot explain my rule to you here broiling in the
sun. Besides, it will not be the work of a day, I promise you; but come
and see us at your leisure hours, and we'll study it together. I have a
great notion we shall become friends; and, to begin, step in with me
now," said Carlo, "and eat a little macaroni with us. I know it is ready
by this time. Besides, you'll see my father, and he'll show you plenty
of rules and compasses, as you like such things; and then I'll go home
with you in the cool of the evening, and you shall show me your melons
and vines, and teach me, in time, something of gardening. Oh, I see we
must be good friends, just made for each other; so come in--no ceremony."
Carlo was not mistaken in his predictions; he and Francisco became very
good friends, spent all their leisure hours together, either in Carlo's
workshop or in Francisco's vineyard, and they mutually improved each
other. Francisco, before he saw his friend's rule, knew but just enough
of arithmetic to calculate in his head the price of the fruit which he
sold in the market; but with Carlo's assistance, and the ambition to
understand the tables and figures upon the wonderful rule, he set to work
in earnest, and in due time, satisfied both himself and his master.
"Who knows but these things that I am learning now may be of some use to
me before I die?" said Francisco, as he was sitting one morning with his
tutor, the carpenter.
"To be sure it will," said the carpenter, putting down his compasses,
with which he was drawing a circle--"Arithmetic is a most useful, and I
was going to say necessary thing to be known by men in all stations; and
a little trigonometry does no harm. In short, my maxim is, that no
knowledge comes amiss; for a man's head is of as much use to him as his
hands; and even more so.
"A word to the wise will always suffice."
"Besides, to say nothing of making a fortune, is not there a great
pleasure in being something of a scholar, and being able to pass one's
time with one's book, and one's compasses and pencil? Safe companions
these for young and old. No one gets into mischief that has pleasant
things to think of and to do when alone; and I know, for my part, that
Here the carpenter, just as he was going to pronounce a fresh panegyric
upon his favourite trigonometry, was interrupted by the sudden entrance
of his little daughter Rosetta, all in tears: a very unusual spectacle,
for, taking the year round, she shed fewer tears than any child of her
age in Naples.
"Why, my dear good humoured little Rosetta, what has happened? Why these
large tears?" said her brother Carlo, and he went up to her, and wiped
them from her cheeks. "And these that are going over the bridge of the
nose so fast? I must stop these tears, too," said Carlo.
Rosetta, at this speech, burst out laughing, and said that she did not
know till then that she had any bridge on her nose.
"And were these shells the cause of the tears?" said her brother, looking
at a heap of shells, which she held before her in her frock.
"Yes, partly," said Rosetta. "It was partly my own fault, but not all.
You know I went out to the carpenter's yard, near the arsenal, where all
the children are picking up chips and sticks so busily; and I was as busy
as any of them, because I wanted to fill my basket soon; and then I
thought I should sell my basketful directly in the little wood-market.
As soon as I had filled my basket, and made up my faggot (which was not
done, brother, till I was almost baked by the sun, for I was forced to
wait by the carpenters for the bits of wood to make up my faggot)--I say,
when it was all ready, and my basket full, I left it altogether in the
"That was not wise to leave it," said Carlo.
"But I only left it for a few minutes, brother, and I could not think
anybody would be so dishonest as to take it whilst I was away. I only
just ran to tell a boy, who had picked up all these beautiful shells upon
the sea-shore, and who wanted to sell them, that I should be glad to buy
them from him, if he would only be so good as to keep them for me, for an
hour or so, till I had carried my wood to market, and till I had sold it,
and so had money to pay him for the shells."
"Your heart was set mightily on these shells, Rosetta."
"Yes; for I thought you and Francisco, brother, would like to have them
for your nice grotto that you are making at Resina. That was the reason
I was in such a hurry to get them. The boy who had them to sell was very
good-natured; he poured them into my lap, and said I had such an honest
face he would trust me, and that as he was in a great hurry, he could not
wait an hour whilst I sold my wood; but that he was sure I would pay him
in the evening, and he told me that he would call here this evening for
the money. But now what shall I do, Carlo? I shall have no money to
give him: I must give back his shells, and that's a great pity."
"But how happened it that you did not sell your wood?"
"Oh, I forgot; did not I tell you that? When I went for my basket, do
you know it was empty, quite empty, not a chip left? Some dishonest
person had carried it all off. Had not I reason to cry now, Carlo?'
"I'll go this minute into the wood-market, and see if I can find your
faggot. Won't that be better than crying?" said her brother. "Should
you know any one of your pieces of wood again if you were to see them?"
"Yes, one of them, I am sure, I should know again," said Rosetta. "It
had a notch at one end of it, where one of the carpenters cut it off from
another piece of wood for me."
"And is this piece of wood from which the carpenter cut it still to be
seen?" said Francisco.
"Yes, it is in the yard; but I cannot bring it to you, for it is very
"We can go to it," said Francisco, "and I hope we shall recover your
Carlo and his friend went with Rosetta immediately to the yard, near the
arsenal, saw the notched piece of wood, and then proceeded to the little
wood-market, and searched every heap that lay before the little factors;
but no notched bit was to be found, and Rosetta declared that she did not
see one stick that looked at all like any of hers.
On their part, her companions eagerly untied their faggots to show them
to her, and exclaimed, "That they were incapable of taking what did not
belong to them; that of all persons they should never have thought of
taking anything from the good natured little Rosetta, who was always
ready to give to others, and to help them in making up their loads."
Despairing of discovering the thief, Francisco and Carlo left the market.
As they were returning home, they were met by the English servant Arthur,
who asked Francisco where he had been, and where he was going.
As soon as he heard of Rosetta's lost faggot, and of the bit of wood,
notched at one end, of which Rosetta drew the shape with a piece of
chalk, which her brother had lent her, Arthur exclaimed, "I have seen
such a bit of wood as this within this quarter of an hour; but I cannot
recollect where. Stay! this was at the baker's, I think, where I went
for some rolls for my master. It was lying beside his oven."
To the baker's they all went as fast as possible, and they got there but
just in time. The baker had in his hand the bit of wood with which he
was that instant going to feed his oven.
"Stop, good Mr. Baker!" cried Rosetta, who ran into the baker's shop
first; and as he heard "Stop! stop!" re-echoed by many voices, the baker
stopped; and turning to Francisco, Carlo and Arthur, begged, with a
countenance of some surprise, to know why they had desired him to stop.
The case was easily explained, and the baker told them that he did not
buy any wood in the little market that morning; that this faggot he had
purchased between the hours of twelve and one from a lad about
Francisco's height, whom he met near the yard of the arsenal.
"This is my bit of wood, I am sure; I know it by this notch," said
"Well," said the baker, "if you will stay here a few minutes, you will
probably see the lad who sold it to me. He desired to be paid in bread,
and my bread was not quite baked when he was here. I bid him call again
in an hour, and I fancy he will be pretty punctual, for he looked
The baker had scarcely finished speaking when Francisco, who was standing
watching at the door, exclaimed, "Here comes Piedro! I hope he is not
the boy who sold you the wood, Mr. Baker?"
"He is the boy, though," replied the baker, and Piedro, who now entered
the shop, started at the sight of Carlo and Francisco, whom he had never
seen since the day of disgrace in the fruit-market.
"Your servant, Signor Piedro," said Carlo; "I have the honour to tell you
that this piece of wood, and all that you took out of the basket, which
you found in the yard of the arsenal, belongs to my sister."
"Yes, indeed," cried Rosetta.
Piedro being very certain that nobody saw him when he emptied Rosetta's
basket, and imagining that he was suspected only upon the bare assertion
of a child like Rosetta, who might be baffled and frightened out of her
story, boldly denied the charge, and defied any one to prove him guilty.
"He has a right to be heard in his own defence," said Arthur, with the
cool justice of an Englishman; and he stopped the angry Carlo's arm, who
was going up to the culprit with all the Italian vehemence of oratory and
gesture. Arthur went on to say something in bad Italian about the
excellence of an English trial by jury, which Carlo was too much enraged
to hear, but to which Francisco paid attention, and turning to Piedro, he
asked him if he was willing to be judged by twelve of his equals?
"With all my heart," said Piedro, still maintaining an unmoved
countenance, and they returned immediately to the little wood-market. On
their way, they had passed through the fruit-market, and crowds of those
who were well acquainted with Piedro's former transactions followed, to
hear the event of the present trial.
Arthur could not, especially as he spoke wretched Italian, make the eager
little merchants understand the nature and advantages of an English trial
by jury. They preferred their own summary mode of proceeding.
Francisco, in whose integrity they all had perfect confidence, was chosen
with unanimous shouts for the judge; but he declined the office, and
another was appointed. He was raised upon a bench, and the guilty but
insolent looking Piedro, and the ingenuous, modest Rosetta stood before
him. She made her complaint in a very artless manner; and Piedro, with
ingenuity, which in a better cause would have deserved admiration, spoke
volubly and craftily in his own defence. But all that he could say could
not alter facts. The judge compared the notched bit of wood found at the
baker's with a piece from which it was cut, which he went to see in the
yard of the arsenal. It was found to fit exactly. The judge then found
it impossible to restrain the loud indignation of all the spectators.
The prisoner was sentenced never more to sell wood in the market; and the
moment sentence was pronounced, Piedro was hissed and hooted out of the
market-place. Thus a third time he deprived himself of the means of
earning his bread.
We shall not dwell upon all his petty methods of cheating in the trades
he next attempted. He handed lemonade about in a part of Naples where he
was not known, but he lost his customers by putting too much water and
too little lemon into this beverage. He then took to the waters from the
sulphurous springs, and served them about to foreigners; but one day, as
he was trying to jostle a competitor from the coach door, he slipped his
foot, and broke his glasses. They had been borrowed from an old woman,
who hired out glasses to the boys who sold lemonade. Piedro knew that it
was the custom to pay, of course, for all that was broken; but this he
was not inclined to do. He had a few shillings in his pocket, and
thought that it would be very clever to defraud this poor woman of her
right, and to spend his shillings upon what he valued much more than he
did his good name--macaroni. The shillings were soon gone.
We shall now for the present leave Piedro to his follies and his fate;
or, to speak more properly, to his follies and their inevitable
Francisco was all this time acquiring knowledge from his new friends,
without neglecting his own or his father's business. He contrived,
during the course of autumn and winter, to make himself a tolerable
arithmetician. Carlo's father could draw plans in architecture neatly;
and pleased with the eagerness Francisco showed to receive instruction,
he willingly put a pencil and compasses into his hand, and taught him all
he knew himself. Francisco had great perseverance, and, by repeated
trials, he at length succeeded in copying exactly all the plans which his
master lent him. His copies, in time, surpassed the originals, and Carlo
exclaimed, with astonishment: "Why, Francisco, what an astonishing
GENIUS you have for drawing!--Absolutely you draw plans better than my
"As to genius," said Francisco, honestly, "I have none. All that I have
done has been done by hard labour. I don't know how other people do
things; but I am sure that I never have been able to get anything done
well but by patience. Don't you remember, Carlo, how you and even
Rosetta laughed at me the first time your father put a pencil into my
awkward, clumsy hands?"
"Because," said Carlo, laughing again at the recollection, "you held your
pencil so drolly; and when you were to cut it, you cut it just as if you
were using a pruning-knife to your vines; but now it is your turn to
laugh, for you surpass us all. And the times are changed since I set
about to explain this rule of mine to you."
"Ay, that rule," said Francisco--"how much I owe to it! Some great
people, when they lose any of their fine things, cause the crier to
promise a reward of so much money to anyone who shall find and restore
their trinket. How richly have you and your father rewarded me for
returning this rule!"
Francisco's modesty and gratitude, as they were perfectly sincere,
attached his friends to him most powerfully; but there was one person who
regretted our hero's frequent absences from his vineyard at Resina. Not
Francisco's father, for he was well satisfied his son never neglected his
business; and as to the hours spent in Naples, he had so much confidence
in Francisco that he felt no apprehensions of his getting into bad
company. When his son had once said to him, "I spend my time at such a
place, and in such and such a manner," he was as well convinced of its
being so as if he had watched and seen him every moment of the day. But
it was Arthur who complained of Francisco's absence.
"I see, because I am an Englishman," said he, "you don't value my
friendship, and yet that is the very reason you ought to value it; no
friends so good as the English, be it spoken without offence to your
Italian friend, for whom you now continually leave me to dodge up and
down here in Resina, without a soul that I like to speak to, for you are
the only Italian I ever liked."
"You shall like another, I promise you," said Francisco. "You must come
with me to Carlo's, and see how I spend my evenings; then complain of me,
if you can."
It was the utmost stretch of Arthur's complaisance to pay this visit;
but, in spite of his national prejudices and habitual reserve of temper,
he was pleased with the reception he met with from the generous Carlo and
the playful Rosetta. They showed him Francisco's drawings with
enthusiastic eagerness; and Arthur, though no great judge of drawing, was
in astonishment, and frequently repeated, "I know a gentleman who visits
my master who would like these things. I wish I might have them to show
"Take them, then," said Carlo; "I wish all Naples could see them,
provided they might be liked half as well as I like them."